Hi, William. How is 2013 going so far?
Hi, Lindsey. It’s going great, thanks. 2013 is going to be a big year and has already started with lots of positive things happening. Every story I’ve sent out this year has so far been accepted and I’m on track for lots of projects I have committed to this year.
Blood Related is your debut novel, originally published in 2011, then re-released by Black Bed Sheets Books in 2012. Did you write very much before starting Blood Related? You had a short story published in the Masters Of Horror anthology in 2010, but I don’t see anything before that. Have you been writing for very long, or is it a recent development in your life?
Yes, ‘Blood Related’ is my first novel and my short story, ‘Devil Inside,’ (recently published as a Kindle short) was my first proper Horror story accepted for a print anthology. I first started writing short stories when I was about twelve years old but never felt confident enough to send them to any publishers, and in retrospect that was probably a good thing. I cut my publishing teeth on poetry and wrote verse for many years with limited success. I had poetry published in a few New Zealand literary periodicals and a couple of UK and US independent publications but nothing of any note. I self-published a limited edition hard-copy collection of verse titled ‘Journey: the search for something’ in 1996. I sold all copies, but I had come to the conclusion that what I really wanted to do was write fiction. I felt that poetry was becoming redundant as a viable medium for what I wanted to express – which was essentially, stories. So I put away the poems and taught myself how to write short fiction which has led to where I am now.
What was the hardest part about writing a novel? Any advice to aspiring novel writers?
I don’t really feel in a position to spout advice to novel writers as I’m just a beginner myself. However, if there was one piece of advice I would offer, that would be to never give up. It took me five years of writing and research to produce Blood Related but as a result of my dedication I have learned a lot and have produced a reasonably coherent novel in the process. I am working on the sequel at the moment, and it is definitely easier with the knowledge and lessons I learnt first time around. The hardest part about writing the novel was finding the time to actually sit down and put the words on the page. I now have a writing plan that seems to work for me but I know that the next novel will bring its own set of circumstances and lessons to be learned.
I’d like to take a moment to tell you what I enjoyed most about Blood Related. Considering how the plot centers around an entire family of serial killers, you had the perfect opportunity to sell books based on shock value. Yet, you maintained a good balance of psychological horror and gore. I was prepared to encounter gratuitous rape and torture scenes which often run rampant in this genre, but you didn’t overdo it. Yes, there is rape and torture in Blood Related (what self-respecting serial killer book is without ‘em?!), but only to serve a purpose, and not an overwhelming amount. Did you make a conscious decision to write the book this way? Or did you just write it as it came to you?
Blood Related went through at least six full edits. I worked in publishing when I was younger and used my experience as a sub-editor/proof-reader to really work the story into shape. I was probably a bit ambitious with the structure that I chose as I wanted to give the story a ‘true crime’ feel with lots of ephemera and appendices to accentuate different aspects of the novel. I really enjoy reading ‘meta-fiction’ authors like John Barth and David Foster Wallace, but also love authors like James Ellroy, Chuck Palahniuk and Joyce Carol Oates. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I took a myriad of influences and ideas and attempted to construct a ‘literary’ Horror/Thriller novel. Ambitious, I know, but to some degree I think it works but unfortunately is mostly non-apparent on the first reading. I am a huge fan of Robert Bloch and Flannery O’Connor, both masters of psychological horror in their own ways, and their style influences my own with the way they subtly depict violence. Their stories run deep with the worst human violence, but the graphic nature of the stories is mostly implied and left to the reader’s imagination and this is what I was trying to replicate, as I personally find it more disturbing than literal over-stated violence. So, yes, it was a conscious decision not to be too graphic in descriptions of violence within the novel, although sometimes I did get a bit carried away.
Who is your favorite character from Blood Related? Why?
I quite like the character of Ray Truman, the clichéd alcoholic cop who has spent a lifetime hunting serial killers. ‘Blood Trail’, the sequel, is largely told from the perspective of this failed but likeable character and I hope that it will be an interesting accompaniment to the first book. I’ve spent most of my reading life immersed in Horror and Thriller literature and there is a definite conformity of ‘type’ to the characters of cops/investigators. It is the character of Ray Truman that will carry the ‘Blood’ trilogy (yes, it will be a trilogy) to its final conclusion and I’m looking forward to playing the role forward in as many interesting ways as possible. I don’t think I could do another first-person serial killer narrative – it really became quite moribund towards the end of writing Blood Related, as I waded through the perspective of a homicidal psychopath.
Blood Trail, your second novel (and sequel to the first) is slated for a 2013 release. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Approximate release date?
My publisher, Nicholas Grabowsky from Black Bed Sheet Books (http://tinyurl.com/aoyvyny), has expressed an interest in a sequel to Blood Related. I was always going to write a sequel with or without interest as the story is not complete and I want it told. Having seen enough interest, from my publisher and from my readers for a sequel, has given me a real push towards finishing the novel mid-2013. So far I’m on track and circumstances-permitting it should be ready for publication around July. ‘Blood Trail’ is the sequel to ‘Blood Related’ and finds Ray Truman struggling to cope with the injuries he received from Caleb Cunningham in the climax of the first novel. Cunningham has fled and is now an international fugitive who is embarking on a ‘murder tour’ – visiting the sites and hunting grounds of some of his favorite serial killers. Meanwhile, Ray Truman is on the mend with the help of Cunningham’s ex-therapist/psychologist who he inadvertently falls in love with. Together, they realize that Cunningham is still killing as they follow his trail of murder via international news stories. By the time that Truman is healthy enough to continue his mission, Cunningham has tired of his tour and is on his way back to Portvale (his fictitious home town/city). Without giving too much away that is the basic plot for the sequel and promises more of a tradition psychological thriller story.
Who are your heroes?
My heroes are primarily writers who have challenged established traditions to produce work that frightens as much as it makes people think. Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Graham Masterton, Poppy Z Brite, James Ellroy, and other writers like Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Hemingway, etc. The list goes on. David lynch is probably the greatest artist that I admire for his film, art and aesthetic sensibility.
In addition to writing, you’re also an artist. Where can we view your work?
Is there anything else you’re working on you’d like my readers to know about?
I’m always working on short fiction and I am hoping to have a collection released shortly. Keep an eye out for ‘Blood Trail’ post mid-year.
Where can we find you on the web?
Thank you, William, for joining us.